Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light by Derek Landy

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Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light by Derek Landy

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: It's ambitious and assured storytelling, filled to the brim with everything I've grown to love about Skulduggery Pleasant, and a gloriously entertaining conclusion to one of my favourite series of all time!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 605 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780007489251

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Warning: While I'm taking great care to avoid any spoilers of the book itself, there may be spoilers for any of the previous eight books in the series, so I would avoid reading this review unless you are sufficiently caught up. And if you are not caught up, I would suggest putting everything else aside and getting down to business on this stunning series.

Everything comes down to this. The war between the Sanctuaries was merely a prelude to the real battle, the fight against Darquesse, perhaps the most powerful sorcerer of all time. Prophesied to burn everyone and everything to ashes, her arrival heralds the end of the world as everyone knows it, and the stakes have never been higher, the need never greater, for Skulduggery Pleasant and what remains of his allies to do what they do best: kicking evil very hard in the face.

And that's all I'm saying about the plot. This is a finale that deserves to be read without even the least of spoilers. From past experience, I knew to go into the book expecting the unexpected, but nothing could quite prepare me for this juggernaut of a finale. The scale is absolutely epic, from the unbelievable, ridiculously exciting action scenes, to the array of heart-stopping plot twists, to beautiful emotional character moments that have the potential to equally warm or wrench your heart. There is a real sense that the author is holding absolutely nothing back. All the quality character development over the series pays off brilliantly; so many of these wonderfully imagined characters get their moment to shine, and there were a few of these that were a long time coming and hugely satisfying to see. Lots of characters and loose ends from the previous books in the series, some that I expected, others that I had all but forgotten, come back into play and lend a real sense of scale and completeness to the book. In particular, there were a good few nods to the very first book, that really brought everything full circle and had me feeling warm with nostalgia.

Further lending to the sense of completeness of the book, was the superbly balanced pacing. While the tension never really lets up, there are still quieter moments between the more explosive scenes, filled with expertly written character interactions, built on a variety of brilliant character relationships, that are sometimes beautifully contemplative, and other times filled with Derek Landy's trademark wit and sarcastic, irreverent humour. Similar breadth and variety is shown through the action scenes, which while being uniformly excellent, vary from vicious, visceral, small-scale brawls, to vast battles of astounding scale between hugely powerful sorcerers.

If I had to air one minor quibble, it would be the narrative device used to tell the separate story of the new character, Danny. The breaks to this narrative thread occasionally felt out of place and I was almost tempted to skim over them, just to get back to the insanity of the main storyline. However, this did have a significant pay off with a genuinely satisfying conclusion, so the author ultimately makes it work. There are also a few plot devices that appear out of nowhere, but they never felt like deus ex machina, a testament to the quality, imagination and depth of Derek Landy's world-building. This is a fantasy where there are so many possibilities, and yet it is set in the real world with a strong dose of logic to it; it is open to the wildest of imaginations, while still feeling surprisingly grounded - a subtle but powerful quality.

I really am going to miss this series! While there is always the option of re-reading, an option that I look forward to exercising liberally in the future, I really will miss the excitement involved in looking forward to a new Skulduggery Pleasant book every year. This is a series that has not only maintained incredible entertainment value throughout, but has managed to consistently exceed steadily rising expectations book after book. While I think the series picked a perfect point to conclude, I can't help but mourn its end. I'm going to miss the expertly written fight scenes. I'm going to miss the brilliant, irreverent, laugh-out-loud humour. I'm going to miss this wonderfully exciting magical world with its wonderfully varied and interesting characters, so many of whom I've got to know so well. And most of all, I'm going to miss the remarkable, titular skeleton detective himself: Skulduggery Pleasant is without doubt one of my favourite fictional characters ever.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy to TheBookbag.

For fans of Skulduggery Pleasant who have suddenly found themselves with a massive hole in their lives, my best recommendation would be Department 19 by Will Hill, now my favourite ongoing teen series, which is also filled with a cast of uniformly brilliant characters, thrilling, unpredictable plotting and unbelievable action scenes. Other stunning series that also ended on great highs and would cater to fans of Derek Landy's style include Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series, the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud and the Gone series by Michael Grant.

Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant Books in Chronological Order

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